Saturday, October 31, 2009

Make the State Right

Surjit S Bhalla on Naxalite, Maoist, NGOs and their functions and why.

  • …..the main complaints of the N&Ms is that development often does not reach the poor, that it gets eaten up by the state, as official help travels from the centre to the hinterland. This is a complaint that is widely echoed by the liberal intellectuals, as they staunchly defend their defence of the N&Ms. The defence, therefore, has two components; first, that violence is perpetrated by the N&Ms because they have little option; the state has in many instances behaved badly, and is massively corrupt, so corrupt that it would steal from the poor. Second, that the N&Ms are really like any other NGO, going to remote areas, where the middle class does not dare to tread, and helping the poor by telling them about the importance of boiled water.
  • …………they come to power and when they leave, the system, and the poor, is a lot worse off than what it was when they started.

Some Questions Are Best Buried in the modern India

Prof. Arvind Panagariya writes in the TOI:

  • Singh has done a great service by sensitising us to the importance of a better understanding of India's immediate pre-independence history………
  • …………..the progressively inflexible position of Jinnah, the only way the Congress could have preserved a united India was by accepting his demands in entirety. But in view of his long struggle for independence that included many years spent in jail, his national integration aspirations, and the dream to build a modern democratic India, Nehru could hardly be expected to make such a sacrifice and that too in favour of someone who had not spent a day in jail, was solely focused on the preservation of the interests of a single community, and had little inclination to work cooperatively with the Congress to build a modern India. The experience with the 1946 interim government, administered jointly by the Congress and the Muslim League, confirmed the unworkable nature of their relationship. There came to exist a virtual vertical wall between the departments held by the Congress and the Muslim League from the minister at the top right down to the orderly at the bottom.
  • Prior to the arrival of Lord Mountbatten, the Cabinet Mission of May 1945 represented the only serious attempt by the British towards independence. To woo Jinnah, the Mission proposed an all-India federation with a three-tier governance structure with a weak Centre at the top, weak provinces at the bottom, and strong groupings of provinces in the middle. Three groupings were proposed: Group A with three contiguous Muslim majority provinces, Group B containing six Hindu majority provinces and Group C clubbing the vast Muslim majority Bengal with a much smaller Hindu majority Assam. Each group was to write its own separate constitution with the Centre's jurisdiction limited to defence, foreign affairs and communications. Predictably, the Congress refused to embrace the groupings idea.

Economically died but politically alive-I

As the nation remember Mrs G’s on her 25th death anniversary the human actions tends to express in different ways. One of them is through words in this way some of Indian liberals temporarily become ‘socialist’ or ‘leftist’ for the sake of one or day for one or two piece of article which they write.

Here are some lists which I think throws some strong arguments of course mixed it seems to be. In fact there is pattern in these lists. As a reader you will find those so called ONE DAY non liberals in India!

Mrs G force

  • ...dynasty and her left-wing economic policies which they argued had severely damaged India.
  • .....the legacy of Sanjay Gandhi (a man whose notorious record has led the Congress to photoshop him out of its history)!

Judging Indira Gandhi

  • ...the moral is clear: the damage you do to other things will eventually be repaired by others. But to repair the damage you do to your own, there is no one.

The Idea of Indira

  • …………the extreme leftward swing in her politics, the passing of so many terrible, retrograde economic legislations that her successors are still not able to reverse came not from any genuine commitment to socialism, but as an ideological camouflage for a series of dictatorial and subversive blunders which she was to regret later — “a step not to be taken for another 1000 years” — and for which Sonia Gandhi expressed regret in her interview on NDTV’s Walk the Talk in the run-up to the 2004 election. It was fitting too that that conversation took place in Allahabad’s Anand Bhawan.
She was always the........

  • The BBC did a survey in Allahabad and Panditji came way down in the list of remembered leaders, well after Amitabh Bachchan. Politics is heartless, and there is no place to be sentimental. You cannot personalise a situation in a democracy.

We can see now: Indira truly was India

  • …..she might have blighted the lives of a couple of generations of Indians. Instead, there is a palpable sense of nostalgia and a feeling of admiration.

Even if you had to cough or sneeze, you had to call the Reserve Bank of India and ask, 'Can we sneeze?'

A management professor turned businessman says some interesting story about his ideas and the business in a emerging new India, the new world.

A bit from that:

  • “We had to import bread making machines in those days. It was the license regime then -- not like today. I gave the project plan and it took four months for the committee to take a decision though they met every month.
  • Once you got the license, it was mentioned in it what machine I was to import and at what cost. Not even a dollar more I was supposed to bring in to the country!
  • After I opened my first unit in Dubai, I decided to become an NRI. The rules in India were stringent then. If you are investing from India, you have to take permission. Even if you had to cough or sneeze, you had to call the Reserve Bank of India and ask, 'Can we sneeze?'”

The full text is below for a card:

  • Fifty-four-year-old M Mahadevan is today known not only in India, but overseas too, as 'Hot Breads Mahadevan'.
  • His journey from being a professor at the Madras University to an entrepreneur in charge of a multi-million-dollar business spanning various countries can only be described as amazingly inspiring.
  • But the man is still the same: simple hearted and hard working. Here is his interesting story.

Early days

  • I come from a simple town in Tamil Nadu called Udumalpet; it is 65 kilometres from Coimbatore. Though both my parents were doctors, I took my post graduate degree in Commerce.
  • My interest in the hotel industry began after reading Arthur Hailey's Hotel. I had just joined college then. In hindsight, I feel what attracted me to the hotel industry was people; I love meeting people.
  • My parents also met people, but only those who were in pain and misery, and I want to meet people who are happy. Those who come to a bakery or restaurant are always in a joyous mood.
  • I came to Chennai in 1979 as an Assistant Professor at Madras University. I taught Marketing to management and accounts students. That was during daytime.
  • The passion to be in the hotel industry was so intense that I started working for four hours at Hotel Ambassador Pallava at night to learn more about the industry. I was a trainee, a bell boy, a receptionist: everything. So, you can say I was a professor during day time and a bell boy in the evening.
  • My mother was aghast when she came to know about what I was doing. She asked, 'Are you mad? You are a teacher, and then you are going and cleaning tables? I can't understand this. I will not be able to find a girl to marry you!'
  • In those days, no girl from any good family in Chennai would marry a man who worked in hotels! In short, my mother didn't like it a bit. But I told her, 'One day, I will become the owner of a hotel and give employment to many people.' She was happy to hear that part.

First enterprise, a take-out with Rs 60,000

  • I met my partner while I was working in the hotel, and we started our first take out -- at the Tic-Tac unit in Chennai. The unit was selling north Indian food and I started a Chinese take-away there.
  • I opened my kitchen with Rs 60,000, and it opened at 5 p.m. and closed at 11.30 p.m. That was the time Chinese food was a craze among the people here.
  • One of the persons who came to take the food was building a commercial tower and asked me whether I was interested in taking up a place there.
  • That was how the restaurant Cascade opened. We served Chinese, Thai, Malay and Japanese cuisine.
  • Those who sold Chinese had red and green as the interiors, but I wanted something different. I got Parmeshwar Godrej from Mumbai through my neighbour, who was artist M F Hussain's son. And I told her I wanted all white and blue. I wanted my restaurant to look different and the interiors became a selling point. Many came to see the interiors.
  • From then on, business roared. That was in 1986.
  • From hotel to bakery
  • I used to go to Singapore to buy my ingredients like Chinese sauces for my hotel and that was when I saw these little bakeries. I decided to open a bakery in India and sell bread. Many told me, 'people look at bread as something that they take when they are ill. How are you going to sell bread?'
  • My partner said, 'You are crazy. The success of Cascadehas got to your head!' So, whatever money I had (Rs.300,000) in Cascade, I took with me, and decided to start my bread unit on my own. I got Rs 800,000 as loan. I started Hot Breads with Rs 11 lakh (Rs 1.1 million) in 1989.
  • We had to import bread making machines in those days. It was the license regime then -- not like today. I gave the project plan and it took four months for the committee to take a decision though they met every month.
  • Once you got the license, it was mentioned in it what machine I was to import and at what cost. Not even a dollar more I was supposed to bring in to the country!
  • I was not looking at selling just bread alone but curry buns, pastries, pizzas, burgers, etc. Bread was only a trap for the customer to come inside.
  • We took a bun, filled it with curry and made it a curry bun. We filled chicken tikka inside a Croissant. I got the idea to make these things Indian after I saw what Japanese did to their bakery items. Our curry buns are a big hit even in Paris.
  • People used to crowd in our unit at Alsa Malls in Chennai.
  • From day one, we started making profits as the concept was unique and the product tasty. It was a perfect cocktail. We broke even in the first year itself and never looked back.
  • In the third month itself, people from Kochi and Bangalore came to me to start Hot Breads units there.
  • Soon, I came to be known as 'Hot Breads Mahadevan'!

First overseas Hot Breads unit in Dubai

  • In 1994, a Tamil couple who had come to Chennai saw how Hot Breads attracted people in Chennai. They asked me, 'Would you like to come to Dubai?' I said, 'Yes!'
  • I had around 12 units in India by then. We went to Dubai, started a unit there and it was a huge success. But we had to close it down after a year as it became a no-parking zone. When we were about to wind up, I was a bit sad that my overseas venture did not take off.
  • We soon got a contract from a union co-operative society. From day one, it was a roaring success. It was a Godsend. Like they say, when one door closes, ten others open.
  • For 14 years, we were at the same place. Only last year, they replaced us but then now, we have so many other units in Dubai.
  • The strangest demand we got was for Arabic bread. A gentleman came to our shop and said, if you don't have Arabic bread when you are here, shut your shop'. The very next day, I hired a Lebanese guy and we started making Arabic bread. Kids might like sandwich bread, but elders still prefer Arabic bread. But what is catching up is the curry-flavoured bread all over.

Becoming a Non-Resident Indian

  • After I opened my first unit in Dubai, I decided to become an NRI. The rules in India were stringent then. If you are investing from India, you have to take permission. Even if you had to cough or sneeze, you had to call the Reserve Bank of India and ask, 'Can we sneeze?'
  • The stringent rules forced me to be a Non-Resident Indian. Anyway, I would be away for more than 180 days to build my units. The profits you make internationally are not taxed here. The profits I made were put back to start more units abroad. The rules are different now. But I am happy that I chose the NRI route.

The second stop was Paris

  • In the last 20 years, I have opened -- with help from others -- 130 bakeries in 16 countries: the United States (New York and San Francisco), Ghana, France (Paris), UAE (Dubai), Botswana, Kuwait, Muscat, Singapore, Malaysia, the United Kingdom (London), etc. Now we are going to Australia.
  • But the market in India is booming and we have 68 units here.
  • We started with Rs 60,000. Now, we make around Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) in India and internationally around Rs 120 crore (Rs 1.2 billion).

Hand of God

  • I believe in the hand of God. You have to be at the right place at the right time, and God's hands have to be there to help you and guide you. Wherever I went -- Dubai, Botswana, San Francisco -- a force took me there.
  • My ideas worked because they came at the right time. Instead of 1989, if I had opened in 1980, I would have gone bust. Doing your homework is very important which is studying and understanding the market.
  • I have made many mistakes, but I try to learn from them. We keep learning.
  • My advice to budding entrepreneurs is, innovate and think different. Don't follow anyone's footsteps; leave your own footprints for others to follow. Try to be lean and mean. Don't take your customers for granted.
  • Unless you have passion, you will not be able to carry a smiling face. More than hard work, it is the passion that you need to succeed.

My 'boys'

  • I have 3,000 boys working for me in India. I started with 14 boys in Dubai, now we have more than 1,000 boys working abroad. I love my boys, but I am a hard taskmaster. I don't accept laziness. I don't like procrastination. I drive them crazy, I know. Some of my boys run to my mother and complain about me!
  • We started 'Winners' in Chennai to teach poor, bright boys to bake. When you teach them a skill, you give them a life.
  • My happiness is not in turning my Rs 60,000 into Rs 120 crore. I am happy because I give employment to 3,000 boys in India. India needs not one but 10,000 Mahadevans to give employment to thousands of people. What I have done, anybody can do. I am an ordinary guy from a small town, but I had big dreams and commitment.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nani Palkhiwala lecture


The Ph.D. Problem!!!!

Louis Menand writes in the forthcoming book:

  • …..the most important function of the system is not the production of knowledge. It is the reproduction of the system. To put it another way, the most important function of the system, both for purposes of its continued survival and for purposes of controlling the market for its products, is the production of the producers. The academic disciplines effectively monopolize (or attempt to monopolize) the production of knowledge in their fields, and they monopolize the production of knowledge producers as well. This is why, for example, you cannot take a course in the law (apart from legal history) outside a law school. In fact, law schools urge applicants to major in areas outside the law. They say that this makes lawyers well-rounded, but it also helps to ensure that future lawyers will be trained only by other lawyers. It helps lawyers retain a monopoly on knowledge of the law.

Economically died but politically alive!!

Was the word’s I was musing after reading the interview of Dr T.D. Dogra in the recent issue of Outlook.

He said:

Was she alive when she was brought in?

  • She was clinically alive. We use the word clinically alive when respiration, lungs and brain are functioning. It’s only when they cease to perform permanently and irreversibly that we call the patient clinically dead. So clinically Mrs Gandhi was very much alive when she was being wheeled in to the OT. I recall Sonia Gandhi and R.K. Dhawan being present there.

And you may think why I think Mrs G is economically dead but politically alive because the India economy is very much dead under her rule and after inserting a ‘socialist’ word in the constitution. And the Indian liberals don’t have any idea like where to go now? Hence there is no question of why she is alive in the Indian polity. Meanwhile, in the process the people of this country have been wounded and the rule of law regime is killed without a break. Moreover, the polity of modern India unfolds standing from the tragic image of Mrs G rule though it’s for a while but not sure how for that while is!

Even a well known political scientist says:

  • “.......her economic policies were largely a disaster, making the seventies the truly lost decade of Indian economic growth.

“The entire apparatus of central planning needs to be questioned and dismantled”

That is the words every liberals ponder without wasting time and money but every person in The State is in vested interest: how to make more votes and money in their packet.

Ajay Shah point out very nicely:

  • “Growth in India only got started when the central planner started getting out of the way.
  • ..the entire apparatus of central planning needs to be questioned and dismantled.
  • Economic reforms were not about a government that permitted Tata Motors to launch the Nano in blue and white: they were about a government that got out of licensing.
Read Mises work here

Some thoughts on the idea of India and Asia!!

While inaugurating the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit today The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has said something interesting. It doesn’t mean that it’s entirely new but it is as old as the 1991 economic reform, at least to my mind.

  • …..our challenges in nation building are primarily at home…….. We do face external and global challenges. The global slowdown is a reality, rise of terrorism is also a reality and we have to face these challenges. But I sincerely believe that they are nowhere as daunting as the ones we face at home. If we get our house in order, if we can liberate each and every citizen of this free nation from the tyranny of poverty, ignorance and disease, there is no external challenge that we cannot overcome.
  • Our philosophy of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam” has encouraged us to accept pluralism as the natural order of all civilized existence.

Quite true another interesting one the word ‘natural order’!!

  • I do believe our destiny is intrinsically linked with that of all our neighbours.

Both at society and individual level

  • …….the growth of the market economy and with individual talent and enterprise being unleashed, no agenda for building a new India can any longer be imposed from Delhi.

In other words, the State has no real knowledge to say on what to produce, how to produce, how much and for whom to produce!!!

Undoubtedly, unlike socialist Chacha, our reform India Chacha understands the market economics or principles of catalytic!!

A new consciousness among the tribal people about their rights over their resources

Before I say anything on naxalite thought of to quote two things from an article published recently in the HT by a professor (whom I also met more than once).

He argues:

  • "Maoists have indulged in most reprehensible acts of violence, and this must be condemned. Currently the debates are squarely focused on issues that have pushed vast sections of tribal people in central India and elsewhere to armed struggle, mostly under the leadership of the Maoists. The fact that a number of such movements are taking place outside Maoist zones and are in defence of their livelihood rights has come to the centre of political discourse.
  • The fact that the Naxalite movement has grown in strength during the past four decades is not because of the so-called laxity in police operations by the state. It is time to recognise that the movement has grown in the tribal areas because there is a new consciousness among the tribal people about their rights over their resources. Attitudes were one of compassion for the "primitive" tribals during the colonial period while plundering their forest products and minerals. Independent India sought to change that attitude to "tribal welfare" and had many schemes under that name. But it too continued the exploitation of the forest resources in the name of national interest. This process got a huge boost after India adopted the path of liberalisation and globalisation."

Just think of these words.

ITMMUS: Who said? And what was it?

The words below is authored by The HT's Advisory Editorial Director.

  • “Tony Blair discussed the differences in style between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Hamid Karzai admitted that while Pakistan was sending terrorists to his country, he knew that Islamabad was sensitive about anything he said about that on Indian soil. Sonia Gandhi explained why and when she decided not to accept the prime ministership. Manmohan Singh expressed his disappointment when it looked as though the nuclear deal would not go through. Nepal's Prachanda made his first international appearance here.
  • Roger Moore said that he thought that Daniel Craig would be a better James Bond than him "because at least he is an actor which I never was". Sania Mirza said she would decide her skirt length according to her own preferences not according to the demands of fundamentalists. Sanjay Dutt told us that his sisters had problems with his wife while Manyaata said Sanjay should join politics. Karan Johar described speculation about his friend Shah Rukh Khan's sexuality as silly. Shah Rukh himself discussed the making of his six pack. Sourav Ganguly told us what he really thought of Greg Chappell.
  • Madeline Albright told us that she thought that there should be a referendum in Kashmir -- something she never declared openly when she was secretary of state. Henry Kissinger said that he did not think that India would ever get a Security Council veto even if it became a permanent member. Sonia Gandhi declared that as much as people ran down Indira Gandhi over bank nationalisation, the global economic crisis proved that Indira had been right all along. Asif Zardari offered a No First Use nuclear pact to India.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No magic’s in economics

Recently economist Sowell wrote:

  • “Back in the days of the Soviet Union, two Russian economists who had never lived in a country with a free market economy understood something about market economies that many others who have lived in such economies all their lives have never understood. Nikolai Shmelev and Vladimir Popov said: "Everything is interconnected in the world of prices, so that the smallest change in one element is passed along the chain to millions of others."
  • If everything is connected to everything else in a market economy, then it makes no sense to have laws and policies that declare some given goal to be a "good thing," without regard to the repercussions, which spread out in all directions, like waves that spread across a pond when you drop a rock in the water.

Migration is as good as globalization

Much have been written on migration after the new report by UNDP, but still there is more to ponder, have some more bites from directly a person who is actually involved in the analysis.

K. Seeta Prabhu who is a Senior Assistant Country Director, UNDP, says in an interview to The Hindu:

Your report says migration hugely benefits poor people. But we often see poor people from the rural areas shifting to urban slums and living on pavements. Does this really qualify as better life? Also, internally we continue to see opposition to migration.

An important fact pointed out by the report is that internal migration far exceeds international migration – an estimated 740 million move within countries as compared to 214 million who move between countries. In India, the estimated number of internal migrants moving from one State to the other is 42 million; those who reside at a place other than their place of birth is as high as 307 million. Studies in Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh indicate that poverty rates fell by 50 per cent between 2001-02 and 2006-07 for households which had at least one migrant.

A review of the urbanisation experiences in Asia indicates that a number of governments continue to pursue policies aimed at discouraging in-migration to cities.

It would be useful if you remember what is seen and what is not seen out of the State’s action on the poor.

Read also

The ideal of migration in India

Myth of The State apparatus

Sunil Mittal writes in today’s HT:

  • “It is true that Corporate India no longer has to contend with the overpowering state apparatus of the pre-liberalisation years; and all the economic indicators show that the country is well on its way to becoming one of the most powerful market economies in the world.


  • “Of late an empathetic government, willing to play the role of an increasingly proactive facilitator, comes as a positive and welcome sign for India Inc. Whether it is a commitment to rapidly ramping up infrastructure (target of building 20 km of road a day) or a supportive stance towards Indian business’ global aspirations, we are seeing a fresh zeal in the government’s attitude.

Again really.

A wounded tiger that is dying now in the underground of the civilization

Outlook has published a bit of B.G. Verghese's forthcoming book: “The Making of Modern India

  • I was amazed to find how little preparation had commenced. There was a lack of clarity on key policy issues and little coordination. It was every frog in his own well. Even on devaluation, I was concerned at the very close circuit of insiders that excluded such key players as the Congress president, Kamaraj, the commerce minister, Manubhai Shah, and the commerce secretary. In the loop were L.K. Jha, Asoka Mehta, Subramaniam, minister of state for foreign affairs Dinesh Singh, finance minister Sachin Chaudhuri, economic advisor I.G. Patel and Pitamber Pant of the Perspective Planning Division of the Planning Commission. Even Sushital Bannerjee, joint secretary to the PM and a key aide, was kept in the dark. K.N. Raj, who later founded the Centre for Development Studies in Trivandrum, was among the two or three outsiders consulted. The date and quantum of devaluation merited confidentiality in order to avoid speculation. But for the rest, it was difficult to understand the paranoia about secrecy, keeping out critical policymakers and key players whose responsibility it would be to carry the reform through politically and implement it purposefully.
  • Before my departure, at one infructuous late night conference, the PM rose around midnight and said she was going to bed. Before leaving she turned and said, “George, you have heard us all. Now go write the speech.” I was dumbfounded!
  • LBJ, a giant of a man, was most solicitous of his guest and walked her down from the White House to Blair House where she was staying. He also gatecrashed into the Indian embassy where B.K. Nehru was entertaining the PM and her delegation to dinner. As one wag put it, it took the Indian prime minister to visit Washington to reveal the gentleman in LBJ! The other quip that did the rounds was that the visit provided the first occasion for a US president to address a visiting head of government as ‘Honey’! At LBJ’s banquet, Isaac Stern, the violinist, gave a virtuoso performance, after which the dancing began. LBJ gallantly approached Mrs G and asked for a dance, which she demurely declined, saying, “Oh! What would my people think!”
  • The separation of the Lok Sabha polls from the general elections to the state assemblies was seen as a wily stratagem to dilute opposition to devaluation. A few hours later, Seshan, private secretary to the PM, called to say that the broadcast was off! Still later, LK was on the line asking me to prepare a broadcast on devaluation. Y.B. Chavan, defence minister, was for it. The Fund and Bank were being formally notified of an announcement within the next 48 hours. Kamaraj had said no to Operation Phoenix as he believed it would cost the Congress the elections. Mrs G was worried and felt Kamaraj wanted to be prime minister. President S. Radhakrishnan asked him about his alleged ambition, to be told that language (his inability to speak either Hindi or English) precluded his becoming prime minister.
  • The cabinet met on Sunday, June 5, 1966. Doubts and cautions were expressed and there was some expected waffling, but the final decision favoured devaluation. Manubhai Shah, commerce minister, was particularly unhappy. He had been kept in the dark though his ministry would feel the brunt of the decision. Kamaraj was informed immediately thereafter. He was adamant in opposition and called it a “sellout”. On Subramaniam describing him as “a wounded tiger”, LK’s comment was, “Well, in the circumstances, you know the rules of shikar (shoot to kill).”

Alisa Rosenbaum Logics on man

Sam Anderson writes:

  • “Whenever Ayn Rand met someone new—an acolyte who’d traveled cross-country to study at her feet, an editor hoping to publish her next novel—she would open the conversation with a line that seems destined to go down as one of history’s all-time classic icebreakers: “Tell me your premises.” Once you’d managed to mumble something halfhearted about loving your family, say, or the Golden Rule, Rand would set about systematically exposing all of your logical contradictions, then steer you toward her own inviolable set of premises: that man is a heroic being, achievement is the aim of life, existence exists, A is A, and so forth—the whole Objectivist catechism. And once you conceded any part of that basic platform, the game was pretty much over. She’d start piecing together her rationalist Tinkertoys until the mighty Randian edifice towered over you…..”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halal food and headscarves

Bibek Debroy (Keynotes On The Economy on) C. Rangarajan new book

  • Stated simply, in an attempt to increase the number of essays in the book, and give it greater length (good for publishers), Rangarajan has mixed chaff with wheat and diluted quality. It becomes worse for the two essays of unspecified parentage. Of these, there is some lean meat in Essay 17 on financial inclusion. But Essay 25 on financial crisis and its fallout is not deserving of Chakravarthi Rangarajan. Not that there is anything wrong in the essay, but it deserves only to be a newspaper article.

Read also

Public Plan Mirage

How The Swiss Do It?

Economics Versus Extremism

Learning to Love Insider Trading

Donald J. Boudreaux single handily defends Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading.

Nationalism and state processes are never evidence based

B Ashok says:

  • ....Science seeks truth; nationalism is about perceived justice. Nationalism and state processes are never evidence based. Nationalism satisfies without explaining, provokes without deep thought. So the power-hungry manipulate it.
  • We are discomfited by Ramakrishnan’s refusal to be celebrated. The truth is, he has done us a great service. His gentle advice that we should show interest in his work, not his person, demonstrates robust scientific fundamentals. Self-seekers amongst us wouldn’t mind appropriating and iconising him as a fig leaf for our collective failures. Rejecting this make-believe, he has indicated that science should transcend politics. His message – ‘leave me alone and serve science’ – has been more important than his moment of glory at Stockholm.

Read also

A Nobel face in the Indian crowd

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Values revere syndrome

Chetan on “Where's My Nobel Prize?”- “people designing the system never took talent into account.

T C A on “Sick men of Asia and the West- “the EU has deliberately chosen not to have a central government which would soon become dysfunctional, we have started with one and then made it dysfunctional by paralysing it neck upwards politically because of electoral considerations and neck downwards administratively because, as Arun Shourie pointed out, even a section officer can veto a proposal and any joint secretary can sabotage a Cabinet decision.

Inflation the Killer of masses desires but for The State has Thriller for it

Prof Vivek Moorthy says:

  • In India over the last decade, due to over-liberalization of the capital account, exchange rate management, or firefighting, has taken precedence over domestic monetary policy goals, and one would be hard pressed to decide where to slot the different policies the Reserve Bank of India has pursued.

Have a look of what Prof Ashima Goyal says:

  • In 1998-99 not tightening monetary policy when inflation peaked with food prices worked as inflation fell later.
  • It follows that excess liquidity is not the problem. Credit growth remains low at around 13%. Asset bubbles normally rise only if credit growth is excessive. And the instrument of procyclical prudential requirements is available to moderate them. If credit is going too much in any one direction concentration margins can be charged.

  • In China, credit is growing at 34%, financing not just government investment, but also private housing.
  • The RBI’s mild rate rises from 2004 did not reduce growth, but the steep rise in 2008 did.
  • If inflows surge as they did in 2007 more restraints may be required on the types of inflows susceptible to wider interest differentials. India’s intermediate stage of capital account convertibility gives it some degrees of freedom in managing, despite an unsatisfactory international financial architecture. Equity inflows do help Indian companies’ investment plans.
  • ……..inflation is low in most countries in the world. We should be able to import these low international prices. If we do not abort inflation now, there will be real appreciation anyway from higher domestic inflation.
  • Low world inflation did help bring down Indian inflation rates in the nineties.
  • In the third part draws your insights into the theory and practice.

Mr. Duty-to-Publish and Mrs. RTI Act

Today’s ET editorial note:

“….Had a Duty-to-Publish policy been in place while this tussle between the secretary and the minister was taking place and being recorded in the files, that wrongheaded policy would have been nipped in the bud. It is time the government delivered on the promise made by the President to the people’s representatives. In fact, the government should supplement a Duty-to-Publish policy with a requirement to subject all major policy changes to public consultation and debate.

The finance ministry is doing precisely that with its proposed Direct Tax Code. Sebi and Trai routinely undertake public consultations before drawing up policy. There is no reason why this should not become standard practice for all policymaking.

President Patil also made another far-reaching promise: “As part of process reform, all proposals to the Cabinet will have to report on how the proposal under consideration will enhance the goals of equity or inclusion, innovation and public accountability.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

2 States just don’t love each other!

In 2009, two Indian states (Punjab & Tamil Nadu) Chief Ministers raised their sons to the level of Deputy Chief Minister. It is not a surprise one, of course the people of these states have hugely wounded. Father marries his sons (no matter how old they are!). Son married none, at least yet. The people of these two states marry their votes once in five years to marry politicians each other!

It is utterly true to borrow Sauvik’s famous often saying of (now days) the ‘Chacha State’, of course he refers in quite different context.

Here the story goes something different. 2 States the story of my marriage is the new book by youth icon author Chetan Bhagat in India. A beautifully narrative (albeit imperfectly: in media he said it’s a true story but in the book it is written as fiction may be for personal reasons) of his love marriage, the key takeaway from this book is many but to be precise. He encourages intercommunity marriage by all means, of course the interstate marriages without any barrier like or a Free Trade Marriage (FTM). He asks the reader to ‘love India’ before loving their state or union territories where they are born. “…these stupid biases and discrimination are the reason our country is so screwed up. It’s Tamil first, Indian later. Punjabi first, Indian later...” He continues, we all marry “National anthem, national currency, etc..still won’t marry our children outside our state. How can this intolerance be good for our country?’

It is not just the parents moody restriction on their children but the mindset that square it doubly with a vested interest and foggy ideas of own-state, tradition, culture, this language or that language is rude, this states or that states is more superior or inferior etc which actually nobody produces out of a centralized planning.

The technology made huge breakthrough in human life in the last century, at last. It was possible to pursue these ideas with freedom to think beyond the earlier generation. Similarly, the change of crude mindset could unleash in huge way in a dynamic economy that dog is underway now in any case! Whether, it is ‘The State’ mindset or the citizen’s mindset. Alas, the former still believe that the population is a burden rather than ‘resource’ and the later has huge cultural nexus which has long way to go. But the price is already huge.

First when I came out of my village (from south India) and travelled for my study as well as to work in central and North India (even went Srinagar) wondered how vast this country is. Chetan concern is as genuine as any one can think “this country, cutting through the states…….these states make up our nation. These states also divide our nation. And in some cases, these states play havoc in our love lives.”

Chetan writes about the change in Indian society in way that is also an order which nobody intended like a centralized planning to make like this or that or forward or backward, left or right. It is quite revealing book. Impact of this book may be seen in the decades to come.

Competence is in vain

In an interview to Outlook Sam Pitroda said:

…….in India politicians are not enlightened. They didn’t have the capacity you need to recognise something is good for the country.

The tragedy of Indian Liberals

In the modern day a true liberal can not tolerate at least in some extant and it may be the tragedy of Indian liberalism. What folds in politics are unfolds in economics and the law for long. After reading a recent article published (Outlook 19 October 2009) by Zareer Masani who is the only son of late veteran Indian liberal Minoo Masani.

The article is a bit and piece of facts about Minoo Masani’s legacy in Indian liberalism and the raise of his son on the jangle of other school of thought which is still ruling the masses with as tragedy as anything else except the liberty, equality and a respect for natural law.

Zareer writes:

  • No doubt, my first impressions of Indira were not helped by the fact that my father, Minoo Masani, was then the highly articulate Leader of the Opposition, whom she had to face in Parliament. Although he was always courteous and chivalrous to her in public, it was clear that he regarded her as politically and intellectually lightweight.
  • I was by then a student at Oxford, and my own politics had been radicalised by opposition to the Vietnam War. By abolishing the Indian princes, nationalising private banks and cocking a snook at Washington, Indira appeared to us as a progressive and idealistic figure who would rescue India from the grip of tired old men and transform the lives of the poor.
  • Back in India after finishing my Oxford degree, I was one of those who campaigned for Mrs Gandhi in the March 1971 general election. I remember working with the playwright Habib Tanvir to produce a mobile musical drama performed by adivasis from Chhattisgarh. We went round Delhi on the back of a lorry with songs and slogans urging everyone to vote Indira. Since my father was then one of the leading figures in the “Grand Alliance” of parties opposing her, I was rather cynically deployed by her election campaign to address meetings in support of her candidates and presented as the brave son who had parted company with a misguided father.
  • Fired by the passion and enthusiasm of youth, I even persuaded my mother to take up arms on Mrs Gandhi’s behalf. Her decision to join the Congress made headline news, especially as my father and other opposition stalwarts were swept away in Indira’s unexpected, landslide victory. My mother’s partisanship was to prove fatal to her marriage. My father forgave my youthful naivete but felt that my mother should have known better. Their political estrangement eventually led to divorce.
  • She was not a serious socialist and drew back from her own earlier radical promises. But neither did she have the vision to see that India’s future would lie in dismantling the hugely inefficient and bureaucratic system of state planning and economic controls which Nehru had established. Meanwhile, those like me who had supported Indira as the democratic socialist were appalled by her drift towards blatant dynasticism and the suppression of dissent. During the Emergency, I was back at Oxford working on a doctoral thesis. I found myself under pressure to delete the final chapter of my biography, which had predicted Indira’s attempt at dictatorship, or abandon hope of an Indian edition. I preferred the latter course.

Other readings

  1. An astute politician, thinker and a profilic writer,
  2. A fiery and - what has been rare in India
  3. Ranga on Masani

Guise of globalization

Ramachandra Guha on Indian Tribal’s:

  • Viewed historically, a triple tragedy has been unfolding in central India, the unvarying feature of which is that it is always the adivasis who are the victims. The first tragedy began with the takeover of their forests by the British, and has continued since Independence with their further dispossession at the hands of both State and market. The second tragedy commenced with the onset of electoral democracy in India, where, as a powerless minority, the tribals have failed to activate the provisions of the Constitution designed to protect their rights and interests. The third tragedy commenced with the advent of the Maoists, whose path of armed struggle, while intensifying violence in the short-term, offers no hope of a long-term solution either.

A love that dares speak its name

A love that dares speak its name by Karan Thapar

October 20, 2009First Published: 22:47 IST(20/10/2009)

Last Updated: 22:54 IST(20/10/2009)

  • Were Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten in love? Her daughter, Pamela Hicks, says “the answer undoubtedly is yes”. His sister, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, agreed. How do I know? Her daughter, Nayantara Sahgal, is my mami. She told me.
  • Did Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten make love? Pamela Hicks thinks not but can’t be sure. “Panditji was a widower,” I asked her in 2007, “he needed female affection and he must have wanted it. Your mother was alluring and beautiful. They were so close together. It would be natural for the emotional to become sexual.” This was her reply: “It could be and maybe everybody will think I’m being very naive… but I don’t believe it.”
  • Nayantara Sahgal tells me her mother always hoped the answer was yes. Speaking for herself: “I won’t know for sure. It was between two people in private. How can one know?”
  • Given that Jawaharlal and Edwina loved each other deeply — and Edwina left behind suitcases of his letters; indeed, several were found on her bedside table — the answer could be yes.
  • Of course, none of this is clinching. The truth is we can only make intelligent guesses. We don’t know for sure. But what is beyond doubt is that none of Nehru’s heirs — including Sonia Gandhi, who never ever met him — or any historian can speak definitively on the subject.
  • So objections to Joe Wright’s proposed film on Edwina and Nehru, based on Alex Von Tunzelmann’s book Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire, on the grounds that this romance is not proven by historical facts, are themselves patently and verifiably wrong. For the government to deny permission to the producers to film in India unless they amend the script and delete kisses or declarations of love flies in the face of what Edwina’s and Nehru’s own relatives would accept as fact.
  • Here’s proof. This is what Pamela Hicks told me in a formal interview: “I believe that they loved being together… they might like to hold hands or to hug or something like that.”
  • It’s also, I would add, not the business of government to ‘protect’ the image of Jawaharlal Nehru and to do so in this way is nothing short of censorship.
  • First, this business of protection. Nehru was a public figure and he was not ashamed of his love for, or relationship with, Edwina. For his heirs or this government today to demand ‘suitable’ changes would suggest there was something improper, even morally unacceptable. That’s an insult to both Nehru and Edwina.
  • Second, is it the business of governments in a democracy to determine or approve how film directors treat historical relationships? The answer is an unequivocal no and both Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi know this. They wouldn’t dare stop biographers — Stanley Wolpert, for example — suggesting Nehru experimented with a homosexual relationship during a holiday in Scandinavia. The only reason they feel they can tamper with Wright’s film is because he wants to make it in India. But isn’t that an abuse of their power to grant permission?
  • Instead, the government should focus on what Edwina and Jawaharlal meant to each other. As Nehru wrote in his letters: “I realise that there was a deeper attachment between us, that some uncontrollable force drew us to one another.” Lord Mountbatten confirms this. As he told his other daughter, Patricia: “She [Edwina] and Jawaharlal are so sweet together. They really dote on each other.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Economics will end up being treated as poor cousins

Sharad Joshi on “The less equal Nobel Laureates” of Economists.

Cut-off Kapil Sibal idea of 80% nor current 60%

Prof. Arvind Panagariya on Indian Education System: The State and the Private Sector’ role’

  • “….must first end the tyranny of the University Grants Commission (UGC) by abolishing it altogether. After nearly six decades of central control, our colleges and universities are surely mature enough to handle their own affairs.
  • Ten years ago, gross enrolment ratios in higher education in China were below India’s. Today, they are more than one and a half times ours. If we rely solely on the state to catch up, we can be sure to fall further behind. The state has neither the resources nor ability to fill the vast gap that now exists between the demand for and supply of college and university education. Absent massive private entry, severe skill shortages await our industrial and services sectors.”

The Freakonomics guys just flunked climate science.

Eric Pooley on Freakonomics Guys Flunk Science of Climate Change

Super Freakonomics

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

David Henderson take is here.

A natural talent for making villagers feel at ease

Banker to the Poor:Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus
2006 Nobel Peace Prize–Winner.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Success has many fathers while failure is an orphan.

EQ versus IQ

Ramakrishnan is reported to have expressed disgust at the outpouring of fan mail received by him from India, especially from Tamil Nadu, after the conferment of the Nobel. On two issues, his anger is understandable, though perhaps expressed at the wrong time, the wrong place and in the wrong manner. He may be right in pointing out that several teachers have suddenly discovered him as their student in his school/college days in India, while he remembers none of them. Secondly, he has expressed resentment at being contacted by persons who had chosen to ignore him for decades but started expressing new-found love after the Nobel win.

Both sentiments are understandable, may even be justifiable, though Ramakrishnan can scarcely believed to be innocent of the universal creed and global phenomenon, not at all peculiar to India, that success has many fathers while failure is an orphan. That this universal phenomenon should surprise Ramakrishnan is surprising. He would surely have encountered enough of it in the American and European cultures in which he has worked for decades to not treat it as uniquely Indian, as his observations suggest.

But these parts of his statement are not the subject of this critique. What is deplorable is Ramakrishnan's equation and linkage of something as lofty and noble as patriotism and nationalism with something as banal and ridiculous as the clogging of his e-mail accounts and a general disgust at being troubled by his countrymen. When a Rajasthani, or a fellow citizen from Jodhpur, gets an outstanding international award, i feel a wee bit extra joy and exhilaration than my other Indian compatriots, because i was born in Jodhpur and hail from Rajasthan.

When an Indian gets a prestigious global award, all Indians feel proud, and even jingoistic, whereas the same award to a foreigner is merely another statistic in a newspaper. This is not to suggest that we are, or i am, casteist, regional or practising false nationalism. Patriotism can be distorted and misused as the "refuge of the scoundrel" but, at its core, it has an intersection of noble values which, in this case, appear to have completely escaped the mind of a brilliant Nobel laureate.

These are the values of link and affinity with a culture, a people, a territory and a national identity. It is this sentiment alone which connects India and Indians, despite this country being the greatest aggregation of diversities on this planet.

Yes, Mr Ramakrishnan, the place and nation of your birth may be "accidents of history", as you put it, but you are woefully and grievously wrong to suppose that the overwhelming tidal wave of affection for you from fellow Tamilians and Indians can be seen or explained merely as an accident of history. Your comments illustrate not merely an absence of EQ but the arrogance of relative youthfulness and an assumption that you can see and analyse everything from the mind while deadening your heart. I can wager a bet that when you grow old (maybe over 75 by western standards, but 65 by Indian standards), you will hark back and hanker for the peace, tranquillity and cultural affinity of the same Chidambaram town, whose eulogising e-mails you are currently castigating.

The writer is an MP and national spokesperson of the Congress party.

“Success is a journey, not a destination.”

Arun Maira on:

Ram on human and their action in cosmos:

  • “AS HUMANS, we have a need to be successful in our own eyes and in the eyes of society. Our definition of success — or more accurately, society’s definition of success — is what drives our behaviour. If we need to change the way people think and act in the Connected Age, we need to redefine success.
  • Adam Smith, the father of moderneconomics, declared that if every individual operates out of his own self-interest, an ‘invisible hand’ will ensure the good of the society as a whole. This has been the fundamental premise of free markets and capitalism for over two centuries.”
  • Governments do not create wealth. People do. The role of government is to provide good education, health care, infrastructure, security, and law and order to all its citizens, thereby giving them a platform to flourish as individuals.
  • As Confucius said: “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of”.
  • In Emerson’s beautiful words: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived; this is to have succeeded“.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Matrix of Diwali =Diligent + Interest+Wisdom+Action+Life+I’m

Matrix of Diwali =Diligent + Interest+Wisdom+Action+Life+I’m

(Row of Lights or Festival of Lights)

Who has named you as Diwali?

Row of Lights or army of Lights

We need freedom!!!

We care your life through ours actions to take along

With the help of the nature which take beyond ours.

You come once in a year,

In the name of glowing lights on our eyes, though blinked often

We put our diligent imbibe throughout the year,

Waiting for you to blink on us through others eyes, mere eyes

The world of nature has no interest in you, but

We the human put every bit of our actions to make you dress well,

With all that lights, minds do makeup it for a good show,

Though we all know that it’s for us

The course of life takes along side of wisdom (no matter how tiny we know)

With these thoughts I wish you a Happy Diwali with glowing peace, joy and prosperity!!


Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan and India

The following write-up is published in today’s TOI in which Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan clarifies certain issues like mass e-mails, misunderstanding of the notion of “nationality being an accident of birth” etc.

A little less nationalistic hero worship, please

16 October 2009, 04:15am IST, Times of India

  • I am distressed by the reaction to my comment about being deluged by emails from India, and realize I have inadvertently hurt people, for which I apologize. I hope people realize that I have no personal secretary and use my email mainly for work, so finding important communications became very difficult.
  • I want to make it clear that I was delighted to hear from scientific colleagues and students whom I had met personally over the years in India and elsewhere, as well as close friends with whom I had lost touch. Unlike real celebrities like movie stars or people in sports, we scientists generally lead a quiet life, and are not psychologically equipped to handle publicity. So I found the barrage of emails from people whom I didn’t know or whom I only knew slightly almost 40 years ago (nearly all from Indians) difficult to deal with.
  • People have also taken offence at my comment about nationality being an accident of birth. However, they don’t seem to notice the first part of the sentence: We are all human beings. Accident or not, I remain grateful to all the dedicated teachers I had throughout my years. Others have said I have disowned my roots.
  • Since 2002, I have come almost every year to India. In these visits, I have spent time on institute campuses giving lectures or talking to colleagues and students about their work, and stayed in the campus guest house. I have not spent my time staying in fancy hotels and going sightseeing without them. The people I visited, e.g. at the ICGEB in Delhi, CCMB in Hyderabad, the University of Madras or the IISc in Bangalore can vouch for this. Finally, at a personal level, although I am westernized, many aspects of culture like a love for classical Indian music or South Indian or Gujarati food are simply a part of me.
  • The best way to take pleasure in someone’s achievement is to take an interest in their work and feel motivated to learn more about science. I remember reading about Gellman’s work as an undergraduate in Baroda, and, when he won the Nobel prize, rushing upstairs to tell my parents. It did not matter to me whether he was Indian or not. In my case, I am lucky to have had a combination of education, opportunities and a great team of co-workers to have made a contribution to an important problem. I am not personally that important. If I hadn’t existed, this work would still have been done. It is the work that is important, and that should be what excites people.
  • Finally, there are many excellent scientists in India and elsewhere who will never win a Nobel prize. But their work is no less interesting and people should find out about what they do. My visits to India confirm that it has great potential and bright young students. A little less nationalistic hero worship will go a long way to fulfil that potential.

Our fiat paper system a scandal

Sauvik has piece on Money vs Gold, Paper and Silver. He concludes:

  • “Any nation can unilaterally revert to the gold standard whenever it chooses. If we do so, our rupee, now pegged to gold, will always appreciate against the rest of the world’s fiat papers. This will help us become big importers. And cheap imports, including of capital goods and components, will make our manufactured exports competitive in terms of technology, quality and price. Our banks will attract the world’s savings, and we will possess capital, the vital ingredient of “capitalism”. All prices will steadily fall and the consumption of the poor will rise in leaps and bounds. This is the power of “sound money”.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Economics Nobel and all that praises-I

  1. American woman shares Nobel in economics
  2. Reactions to the Nobel in Economic Science
  3. A Nobel for Practical Economics
  4. A Welcome Nobel

Celebrates human possibilities not ideology

Mint “..word of caution is in order. Given the climate in which the prize has been given (a global economic crisis and interventionist governments becoming fashionable again), it would be wrong to say that Ostrom’s prize provides ballast for those favouring governments in the “state vs market” debate. Ostrom’s work celebrates human possibilities and not ideology.

“fizzle” of Mr. Santhanam’s bai

Just Say No

“Puzzle” triggered in foreign aid

“Countries that have relied less on foreign finance have grown faster.

“Our nationality is simply an accident of birth”

Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has said something amazing and it’s a moral responsibility to think everyone as for as the ‘nationality’ is concerns.

  • "…I, personally, am not important. The fact that I am of Indian origin is even less important. We are all human beings, and our nationality is simply an accident of birth”.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

On the Nobel Peace, (yet no peace)

  1. Our man for the Nobel
  2. Even greater expectations
  3. Why this column deserves the Nobel
  4. Sen on Nobel!!!

The Economics Nobel and all that praises

Writing in the Forbes about the newly won Economics Nobel Prize professor Vernon L. Smith is a 2002 Nobel laureate says:

  • “….."property (originally propriety) rights" are about human rights and the challenge of defining them incentive-compatibly for mutual benefit.

There is something terrible wrong with the above statement. As I have been pointing out in this blog that that there is no such thing as ‘human right’ in front of the ‘right to property’ in man’s life. Many scholars have written about it especially Professor Jagdish Bhagwati has also written about it.

The 2005 Nobel Prize winning Professor Thomas C. Schelling says:

  • the selection committee does not need to depart noticeably from economic criteria when it seeks out individuals in other disciplines--perhaps sociology or philosophy, as well as psychology and political science--who make pioneering contributions to what the National Bank of Sweden calls the "economic sciences." (Maybe the plural has proved useful.)

Also read

Why Elinor Ostrom Matters

Monday, October 12, 2009

First woman Nobel Laureate in Economics!!

Elinor Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson won this year The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2009 for their “"for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons" and "for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm" respectively.

There is a "the live web cast from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden"

The person who answer the questions is "one of the Committee members about the 2009 Prize in Economic Sciences." He says in this interview that 'when any rules are framed among participants (read people)' themselves have better impact on their social interaction rather than The State framed rules.

Elinor Ostrom is the first woman Nobel Laureate in Economics Science.